I remember being at Yiannis Wine Shop last year and Yiannis said I had to check out the Greek place across the street. He said the food was very good and authentic, I assumed he knew what he was talking about since he was from Cypress. Yiannis even offered to pay for dinner if Shelby and I went to check it out. I declined his generous offer and promised that I would check it out. Sadly it took me several months but we finally made it and we weren't disappointed.
I met Shelby and her friends Crystal, Laura and Jonathan who were already seated. There were supposed to be 6 of us but one of them couldn't make it, no worries though, seating was readily available for them when walked in arrived. Our server, Adriyan, promptly offered water and asked if we wanted anything else to drink. The Restaurant Week menus were on the table, we checked out what was being offered.
We were given choices for two courses, here's what was being offered:
- Choice of Dip (tzatziki, melitzanosalata, taramosalata, scordalia, tirokafteri or hummus)
- Cup of Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo or Lentil Soup
- Gyro or Chicken Pita with Fries
- Small Greek Salad with Gyro or Grilled Chicken
- Mediterranean Pasta
I already knew Shelby would go for the Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, she loves that stuff. I saw a Greek version of Baba Ganoush called Melitzanosalatawas available with the pita so I ordered that. Crystal, affectionately known as “Turd” had the Lemon Chicken Orzo too, Laura took the Spanakopita and Jonathan had a cup of Lentil Soup. Adriyan was a great help explaining what was available and what might be the best bet when ordering courses. She told us the Lemon Chicken Orzo is on the normal menu, but the Lentil Soup was a special for Restaurant Week. I think that had Jonathan lean towards the lentil which he ultimately ordered.
Adriyan went over the our second course options and I decided I'd go with the Chicken Gyro since Shelby was ordering the Greek Salad with Gyro. Laura and Jonathan both went with the traditional gyros plates and Crystal had the Mediterranean Pasta. After heading back to put in our orders she quickly returned with our first course meals. My Melitzanosalatawas was served with a generous amount of soft pita for dipping. I liked the texture and it had plenty of garlic, which I love. I don't know if Shelby will later when we were home though. I didn't get to try the soups but the feedback was good. I was snapping photos of peoples plates but didn't get a shot of Laura's Spanakopita, she had already ate half of it!
Before we could finish out the first course the second came to the table. The portions were good and everything smelled great. My Gyros plate came with fries so I started picking at them. I have a tendency to always eat my fries first—I have no idea why, been doing it since I was a kid. I pinched off a piece of the grilled chicken in my pita and it was cooked perfectly. Moist, a little grill char on the outside and seasoned nicely. The sauce and vegetables in the pita wrap blended well and I didn't have a problem finishing the whole thing. Shelby's salad looked good and she was getting into the feta cheese and olives. The gyros meat on the salad was the same in the Gyros meals and it was standard fair, what you would find in most Greek restaurants. Crystal seemed to be enjoying her pasta which had sun dried tomatoes, capers, onions, olives and a few other things including a white win garlic sauce.
All in all it was a good meal and the service was great. I'd like to come back and hit the regular menu for a proper dinner sometime. I love lamb and I bet they have a couple of great plates with it. Their Restaurant Week dinner menu does have a braised lamb on it, so maybe that's an option? Maybe next time, we try to head to different restaurants during Virginia Beach Restaurant Week to try places that are new to us.
Can't wait to see where we end up next!
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week 2015 has kicked off for the new year! Just thinking about all the possibilities for lunches and dinners has me worrying about my cholesterol and blood pressure. If you're not familiar with Restaurant Week, participating area establishments offer lunch and/or dinner specials at reduced prices to entice diners to visit their restaurants to try something new. On average lunches are $10 and dinners run from $20-$30.
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with over 90 restaurants taking part. We were able to hit a few last year: Braise, Croakers, and Chic's to name a few. Our first Restaurant Week outing this year was to Mannino's for lunch! If you didn't know it yet, Mannino's has the best She-Crab soup in Virginia Beach—hands-down. I don't say those words lightly either! Starting with a good soup sounded perfect since we're in cold weather now. Shelby made reservations for us at the new Oceanfront location, this will be our first time at that shop.
They have an extensive Restaurant Week lunch menu made especially for Restaurant Week. I didn't realize how much they were offering until I actually checked out the menu. For $10 you get two courses: The first could be Prosciutto & Fresh Mozzarella, Calamari Friti or a cup of the Award Winning She-Crab soup! (I know what I was ordering.)
The second course ran one and a half pages, anywhere from salads, sandwiches (including an Oyster Po' Boy), and a wide range of pastas and sauces. We had 5 in our lunch group Shelby, myself, Nana and Marleigh who brought along a friend for us to meet. Once we were seated our server brought out a hot, fresh loaf of bread for the table and small plates to mix olive oil and balsamic. We used the delicious, crusty bread to dip into the mixture and finished off the small loaf quickly. I asked for another immediately afterward. The table pretty much stuck with the first course She-Crab soup except for Nana who has an aversion to shellfish. Our meals came with salads too, a nice house salad and a Caesar. As for entrées we ordered the following: Two plates of Four Cheese Ravioli (one spicy), Vitello Parmigiana, Smoked Turkey & Provolone Panini and a Fried Oyster Po' Boy.
When the first course was brought out I was surprised at how large the calamari plate was, it was the regular serving size. The soup came in cups, as described on the menu. Nana ordered the calamari and passed it around the table to share, even after doling out some to everyone she had a healthy portion left to herself. The She-Crab soup was spectacular as expected. The large chunks of sweet crab meat were hiding just below the creamy soup and I made sure to divvy out equal amounts of each with every bite. I can be a little anal about how I eat my food. The Caesar was very nice and I loved the croutons that came with it, I like mine a little airy. I didn't try the house salad but it was pretty with a variety of lettuce and long slivers of carrots and beets.
After the bread, salads, soups and calamari we were getting full. I had to finish Marleigh's soup because it would have been a sin to let that go back to the kitchen to be dumped! When the entrées were brought out we saw they really did stay with the regular menu portion sizes (or close enough!) I had the Vitello Parmigiana, veal Parmesan, that I really enjoyed. I don't get out for Italian much so this was a nice change of pace. The veal was lightly breaded and cook well, the cutlet was sitting on top of a mound of penne and sauce. I ended up giving the rest to Shelby in a take-out. She had the spicy ravioli and was gushing over the sauce. Nana had the panini and seemed pretty happy with what she ordered, it looked good and she ended up taking home some too. Marleigh's friend Patrick had the oyster po' boy that was huge. It had at least 6 plump, fried oysters in it with all fixings to the side with two sauces to choose from.
Overall everyone was impressed with the meals being offered on Mannino's special menu for Restaurant Week and can't say enough how great of a deal it was for $10 a plate! I hope we're as lucky with the next place we pick. Make sure to get out and see what's being offered, the chefs and kitchens usually put something special together to let people get a taste of what they have to offer. Take a tour of Virginia Beach's restaurants, see if you find a new favorite out there.
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week runs from 10-19 January 2015.
In the Hampton Roads area we recently finished up a couple of restaurant week events for Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Newport News still has one going on till February 2nd and Portsmouth will be running theirs in April. Unfortunately, we only made it out for Virginia Beach's because of bad weather and a head cold that popped up during Norfolk restaurant week. I meant to have this written up last week but I've been pulled in a few different directions. Better late than never tough right?
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week (VBRW) basically works this way: participating restaurants offer a lunch and/or a dinner at a discounted rate. Most of the time the dishes they serve showcase what the eatery has to offer and it also affords people the chance to try out different places without breaking the bank. Shelby and I tried four places in Virginia Beach, I'll give you a little rundown on what we had.
As soon as Shelby and I got off of work we started checking out the restaurant week menus. It was hard to choose one place to eat but we finally settled on Croakers Neighborhood Grill. We've heard good things about the Virginia Beach local's spot and the menu looked good. Croakers is located on Shore Dr., if you're not familiar with Virginia Beach, Shore Dr. runs the length of the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk.
When we pulled up the parking lot was packed. After a couple of run-arounds we got a spot and went inside. It reminded me of the classic Virginia Beach aesthetic—beachy, colorful, and the feeling its been around for a while. The hostess immediately seated us and the server came out and gave us info on the restaurant week menu. Croakers gave you the option of having a drink or cocktail instead of your third course dessert. We both opted for drinks, Shelby got a chocolate martini and I got a beer.
The appetizers being offered were Fried Calamari, Oysters Rockefeller, and Breaded Popcorn Shrimp. I chose the Rockefeller and Shelby got the calamari. The calamari had a great batter on them. Probably a beer batter with a little bit of Chesapeake Bay seasoning at the end. You get the whole squid; I love the tentacles. The oysters were good but I've been eating so many Oysters Rockefeller lately, I've been spoiled (I'm talking about Croc's.)
Entrees were Blackened Chicken, a NY Strip or something called St. Charles. Here's the description:
“Chef's choice of fish pan sauteed and topped with fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and shrimp which have been simmered in our special sherry, lemon and butter sauce – delicious”
Sounded good, we both ordered it. I was glad I did, normally this is a $20+ dinner but they put together a little something for restaurant week and it was so good. Out of everything I tried during VBRW, this was my favorite. They used talapia the night we went and it was cooked perfectly. I'm actually going to write more about this dish later, so I'll stop now. Definitely worth a try.
The second thing we tried was the lunch menu at Braise the next day. Braise recently opened in the city by the locally known chef Bobby Huber of Bobbywood fame. Braise was offering a $10 lunch with a few options to choose from. We went with one of our friends—Alisa—who had never been before.
I was really excited about was that Chef Huber's popular Oyster Stew was on the special menu. Shelby and Alisa both got the Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits and Fried Spinach. They offered starters before the aforementioned dishes: Emily's Famous Lumpia or a Wedge Salad. I had the wedge salad while Shelby and Alisa, again, chose the same thing. Emily's Famous Lumpia.
Let me back up a bit. When we arrived it was packed! We lucked out because we were able to grab the only available table. We settled in and eventually our server arrived, it took awhile because the volume of customers in the restaurant. We looked at our menus, were given water, and then we ordered. We got our food eventually but my water glass wasn't refilled. I'm only mentioning it because that is my one major pet peeve when I eat out. I hate not having water, it really bothered me. I ended up drinking Shelby's since she didn’t want it.
I loved my salad. I love lettuce, so this would be easy to make me happy. The wedge had crumbled bleu cheese and dressing poured over it. A nice balsamic was dashing around the plate with some grapes and tomatoes. Mixed in with the cheese and dressing was nice, chewy bacon. Good stuff.
I didn't try the lumpia but Shelby and Alisa both seem to enjoy them. The entrees took long time to get out, and as I mentioned, I had no water. When the food came out, they forgot one of our entrees. I was worried it would take a while to get the missing plate out, but he was back quickly with it.
The oyster stew was very good. Tasty with perfectly cooked oysters and mildly seasoned. I like being able to taste the oysters without them having to compete with the rest of the soup. Potatoes and more bacon were in the bowl too, can't go wrong with that combo. The Braised Short Rib was good and the portion was small, but I guess I shouldn't complain about a $10 lunch right?
We've been to Sonoma before and liked the service. The food was good, but I thought a little overpriced and my entree could have used a little seasoning. I was looking forward to trying again though.
We went for the lunch menu and we had another of Shelby's friends, Crystal, with us this time. It was later in the week and the lunch crowd was manageable. The soup of the day was the first course and we had a choice of Chipotle Pork Taco, Blackened Crabcake Sandwich, and Seared Mahi. Shelby and Crystal went with the crabcake and I picked the tacos for variety.
The soup of the day was French Onion, which is one of my favorites. It was delicious and the cheesy baguette was great for soaking up all the broth. The Crabcake Sandwich was pretty good, not overloaded with filler, but definitely not lumpcrab. The tacos weren't too exciting and but they were good.
The last place we tried was Chick's at the Lynnhaven Inlet. A local staple, if you live in Virginia Beach you know about this place. I'll have to admit though, I've never been. I didn't realize how big this place is, on the outside it doesn't seem like much. They have a several bars services the different sections of the restaurant. We were seated on the deck which was enclosed for the season. Casual and relaxed, easy place to roll into for a drink or to grab a bite to eat. I'll probably write a little more about the place later.
Luckily we had Marleigh and Chayce with us that day and we met with my step-father, John and my sister Diane. After we were seated I walked around a bit to check out the joint. I bumped into Gerald from Hoffman Beverage who was there with one of his people who was pushing Monster drinks at the bar.
The lunch menu offered some pretty good choices: Open with a salad, She-Crab Soup or ½ Dozen Oysters (steamed or raw) and an entree choice of Fresh Catch Sandwich, Blackened Mahi Tacos, or Everything Greek Salmon Salad.
Chayce and I ordered the oysters, his steamed, mine raw on the half shell. Shelby got the She-Crab soup. She had the Greek Salmon salad and I thought I'd try the tacos here too. Chayce got the fish sandwich which turned out to be flounder that day. It was huge and looked great. My tacos, again, weren't anything I got excited over and Shelby said I might not want to order tacos anymore. Her Greek salad was huge too and out of everything we had that week, she said that was her favorite. The She-Crab was very good too. I'd like to go back again and try some of the other menu items, they have a lot to choose from.
All in all restaurant week was fun, like I mentioned earlier, it's a great way to get out and try some places you might not normally head to. The prices were good and the overall experience was a good one. Can't wait till next year's event.